Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review
If Alinco’s DX-R8 receiver and the DX-SR8 had a child, it would be the DX-SR9. The DX-SR9 inherits the brains of the DX-R8 and the brawn of the DX-SR8 to create the DX-SR9 hybrid amateur radio transceiver. Hybrid SDRs are generally a standard radio receiver with buttons and knobs that feature an IQ output to allow its use with SDR software programs. This gives you the best of best worlds. You get a radio with standard buttons and knobs that you can quickly use when you don’t feel like firing up the shack computer for SDR. The Hybrid SDR also allows you to use it in situations where you would like to not have to fool with the computer like in the field or mobile. Unlike the black box SDR radios, you are not always tied to a computer for operation. The Hybrids also offer a more friendly introduction to SDR for new users. They can plug the rig in and use it immediately and come to grips with the SDR part later. When SDR software is added, then the radio gains some of the features of far more expensive radios such as panoramic displays and additional filtering. What’s the downside? IQ based SDR radios don’t offer some of the perks of direct sampling SDR radios such as larger bandwidth and better signal processing. IQ based SDR radios can sometimes take a little more fiddling to get setup and running well. Hopefully more amateur radio manufacturers will consider offering more Hybrids in the future. The Alinco DX-SR9 retails for $799 with a street price of around $699 to $775. The nearest competitors to the 100 Watt Alinco DX-SR9 as of this writing is the 10 Watt Elecraft KX3 SDR hybrid at $899 (kit) and $995 (assembled). If you want to add the 100 watt power amp, that will be another $699 (kit) or $749 (assembled). For the price of the KX3 and amp, you could buy the DX-SR9 and have money left over for a very nice shack computer. However, with that said, Elecraft does make excellent radio gear. The only other sort of close competitor is the 5 watt Flex 1500 black box IQ based SDR transceiver for $699. Having used and tested the Flex 1550, this is an excellent little QRP SDR transceiver. So, basically at this point it is fair to say that Alinco as no real competition in the 100 Watt SDR radio category in the $799 price range or frankly the $1500 and up range. The next step up would probably be the older 100 Watt Flex 3000 black box SDR at $1749. Now to be fair, once you cross the $1500 range in SDR radios, it gets to be more of an “apples” to “oranges” comparison. The point is that the DX-SR9 presents a very attractive value for amateur radio users looking for an entry level radio and would like to experiment with SDR. The DX-SR9 was released earlier this year, so it is a relatively new product. The observations in this review are based on the current shipping firmware.
Note* The DX-SR9 does not cover 6 meters as most of the above mentioned radios do, however it does include FM modulation.
- Coverage of All short-wave and HF amateur bands
Covers the 160m to 10m amateur bands including 5.3MHz in SSB, CW, AM ,FM and IQ output modes. Output power is 100W SSB/CW and FM, 40W in AM with low and super-low power settings for QRP operation. In addition, the general coverage receiver covers 135KHz to 30MHz in all modes. (The RX sensitivity and selectivity are not guaranteed out side of the ham bands.)
- Internal VOX
Eliminates optional interface box for PC connection to operate data modes like PSK31.
- Detachable front control panel
Completely detachable front control panel with large LCD display lets you install the radio with greater flexibility whether in your car, boat or your shack. (Optional EDS-17 cable required)
- Direct DATA entry via the key pads
While the main dial tunes at the default 10Hz/resolution (adjustable in set mode), the numerical key pads can be used for fast direct frequency input, band selection and more.
- Fight QRM with these STANDARD features
Reject unwanted signals with the IF shift. Choose a narrow filter(AM 2.4KHz/SSB 1KHz, CW 0.5KHz audio-filtering), a noise-blanker or use RIT/TXIT to stay out of QRM.
- Emphasis on CW Operation
An electronic keyer unit is standard. You can receive CW using either upper or lower side of the carrier frequency. Choice of side tone pitch, FULL (QSK), Semi or Auto break-in, split, narrow filter, AGC and RF gain.
- World-class transmit audio quality
A dynamic microphone (T/E models) and a speech compressor come standard for sharp, clear and powerful transmitting audio.
- Enhanced scan modes
A variety of scan modes are available including Priority, Search, Busy, Timed, Memory and Programmed search. Timed scan setting does not require squelch-mute so you are able to monitor data-modes and broadcasts simultaneously with memory search scan.
- Additional convenient features include
RF Attenuator and Pre-amplifier selectable in 4 steps, / 3 TX power output levels with a Super-Low setting (QRP 0.1W~2W variable) / Dual VFO / 600ch memories in 3 banks / Connections for Auto-antenna tuner and Liner amplifier ALC output / Fully independent AF level, squelch, RIT and IF shift knobs / Dial lock and key lock / TX-RX lamp / Alphanumeric display / Auto-power-off / CTCSS encode for 10m FM repeater accesses / Microphone, Headphone and External speaker jacks on the front panel / Large, temperature-controlled internal cooling fan with anti-overheat output power limiter/ High-SWR protection and more!